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Working with the Body Shop on women's work and community trade

Posted on 04/07/2013

Participants at the event discussing empowerment and valuing women's unpaid work. Felicity Butler, RHUL (second left) and Christina Archer, Body Shop (first right).

The research of Felicity Butler, MSc Practising Sustainable Development student in the Department of Geography, RHUL was highlighted at an recent event in London celebrating an innovative approach to women's empowerment. Ethical trade, such as Fair Trade schemes, have attracted significant attention in recent years for providing producers a 'fair price' for their goods. The role of unpaid work, particularly by women, often remains invisible in such initiatives. In Nicaragua, small farmer cooperatives are empowering women using monies paid to them through ethical trading relationships in recognition of the unpaid work of women in their sesame and coffee production. 

Felicity's MSc research examinines how the schemes work in Achuapa, Nicaragua and she spoke about this at the event. Her research has been conducted in collaboration with The Body Shop who have been involved in debates around valuing unpaid work through their community trade scheme. She will continue her studies through a PhD funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and The Body Shop. This innovative research will be supervised by Dr Dorothea Kleine, Senior Lecturer in the Geography Department and an expert on Fair Trade and Ethical Consumption. Christina Archer, Senior Buyer at The Body Shop, will be the second supervisor.

Christina Archer said, “We are really excited about this partnership. The Body Shop has always supported both ethical trading and women’s empowerment, so the topic is of real interest to us. Academic experts like Dr Kleine can provide expertise and rigour, while we can offer 25 years of experience in community trade”. Dorothea Kleine said, “The Body Shop has a long history of being a pioneer in ethical trading. This project will give us a chance to jointly explore the case for recognising women’s unpaid labour in community and fair trade pricing. If there is evidence that this case can be made and the Body Shop takes some recommendations on board, other companies might follow – ultimately we want a “race to the top” for ethical trading.”  

For further information see: www.womenincommunitytrade.org

The Department of Geography is also collaborating with The Body Shop through our placement-linked dissertations.




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